How To Choose The Right Dog Harness?

How To Choose The Right Dog Harness?

As pet lovers, we understand the importance of walks and training sessions for your pup. The two or three times you take your furry friend out for a walk is likely the happiest and most fulfilling time of their day. It has a significant positive effect on the puppy's physical and mental health.

However, these happy moments can quickly turn sour if your puppy doesn't feel comfortable in their walking gear. They may try to run away or ignore your commands, leading to unfortunate events in public spaces.

Therefore, knowing how to choose the correct dog harness is essential.

However, as a new pet parent, how do you know which harness is appropriate for your pup? With so many different harness styles and sizes, choosing can be difficult.

That's why, in today's blog, we present a comprehensive guide to dog harnesses. We discuss what to consider when purchasing harnesses, the different types of harnesses, and more.

So, read on!

Benefits of Dog Harnesses

Before we begin the harness guide, let's understand why you may choose a harness over a traditional collar for your dog.

Generally, harnesses are ideal for smaller breeds of dogs and pets with neck problems than simple collars. But that doesn't mean larger breeds can't benefit from them.

Here's why most modern pet owners prefer harnesses for their furry friends!

1. Better Control Over Your Dog

Instead of only wrapping around the neck, harnesses wrap around your puppy's body to provide you with firmer control over them. They feature four adjustment points for the correct fit and connection point at the front to reduce pulling effects.

Harnesses offer more effective control, which makes them particularly beneficial for larger, more energetic breeds and busy areas where your puppy may encounter other dogs.

2. Prevention Of Neck And Spine Injuries

You significantly reduce the risk of spine and neck injuries by choosing the correct harness for your dog.

While a collar puts all the pressure on your dog's neck when pulled, a harness distributes it across the chest area. It helps prevent injuries in delicate and smaller breeds.

For the same reason, harnesses are much safer for puppies with spine or neck issues, like arthritis or wobbler syndrome.

3. Prevention Of Escape

Have you ever experienced the heart-stopping moment when your puppy slips out of their collar and runs toward the traffic? Then, you will value the security of a harness.

Fiddling out of the snugle of a harness is hard for even the most adept escape artists. It's a sturdy, reliable option to keep your puppy secure during all the activities and adventures.

4. Safety During Car Rides

Like humans, dogs need protection during car rides as well. Restraining your pup during car travel is a legal requirement in many places.

Crash-tested dog harnesses can help you adhere to these laws and protect your furry friend during your travel adventures. These harnesses go through rigorous testing to meet the required safety standards. They allow you to easily attach the seatbelt with the harness to restrain your puppy without sacrificing their comfort.

5. Better Visibility

During those early morning or late evening walks, ensuring your pup is visible to others is essential for their safety.

A harness designed with reflective fabrics is perfect for this. Their reflective materials and bright colors ensure drivers and passersby can notice your pup from miles away. 

It can be particularly crucial during winter months as daylight hours are shorter.

6. Assistance With Training

Harnesses can be incredibly helpful when training your fur baby. Some harnesses feature front attachment that discourages pulling behavior in dogs, while others can deter jumping up. Plus, unlike collars, harnesses are less likely to come off during training activities.

Overall, they make great tools for teaching leash manners to your pup. Harnesses are also great for older dogs requiring support after a walk or rest.

Key Factors To Choose The Right Dog Harness

So, how do you choose the correct dog harness?

Once you have determined that a harness will better support your pup than a collar, you can make the purchase.

However, as previously mentioned, several types of harnesses are available for different sizes and breeds of dogs these days. Knowing what features and functionalities to look for is essential to purchase a harness that fits your pup, providing them the comfort and security they need.

To help you, here's a guide to choosing the correct dog harness, consisting of all the critical factors you should look for when buying one.

1. It connects to the leash without hassle

If you and your pup have a favorite leash, ensure the harness you are about to purchase doesn'tconnects with it easily. Depending on the connectivity, there are three main structures you have to keep in mind: front clip, multi-clip, side rings, and back clip.

Front clips attach to your dog's chest, giving you sufficient control over certain behaviors, like pulling or jumping. However, these harnesses are ineffective at controlling large dog breeds. The position also makes the harness prone to tangling underneath the front legs of your pup.

Back clip harnesses are easy to put on but offer limited control over a dog's movement. On the contrary, multi-clip harnesses blend the features of the two previous harness types, making them versatile and ideal for new pet parents.

Another popular harness design is side rings. This type of harness is ideal for walking but not training.

2. Size and fit

How do you choose the right size dog harness? Gauge your dog's neck and chest with tape or string. Then, use a ruler to measure the string. To find the precise dimensions, measure the widest part of your dog's chest. It's the circumference positioned right behind their front legs.

Furthermore, consult the harness manufacturer's sizing chart to compare your dog's measurements to the harness size.

Remember, the harness should sit snugly on your puppy without being too tight or loose. You should be able to slide two fingers under the straps.

Also, check behind your dog's elbow and legs for signs of rubbing and chafing, and adjust the harness as needed. Tight harnesses can restrict breathing and cause discomfort for your dog, while too-loose harnesses will let the dog slip out.

3. Material

Most harnesses are leather, synthetic, or nylon, whereas some use neoprene. Leather is well-known for being long-lasting and sturdy, while nylon is durable, lightweight, and suitable for humid regions.

Neoprene, on the other hand, is water-resistant. The quality makes it ideal for swimming. Another good harness material is faux leather. These are gentle on the canine's skin and durable and robust.

To choose the right harness for your dog, consider how you will use it and its maintenance requirements. Also, ensure it's safe and comfortable for your dog to avoid skin irritation.

4. Simplicity and ease

While aesthetics are important when shopping for pet gear, they shouldn't overshadow other crucial factors, such as functionality and ease of use. Sometimes, the most basic harnesses are the safest.

Unnecessary padding and straps can make fitting the harness more complex. It will also leave wiggle room for your puppy to slip out.

Furthermore, the harness should be easy to wear and take off. Hence, we recommend looking for straightforward features like non-complex straps and quick-release buckles to enjoy hassle-free walks.

5. Durability and washability

Even the easiest-to-train dog breeds can be messier than you expect. Hence, harnesses that can easily withstand tear and wear and is easy to clean is vital.

Many dog harnesses are machine washable, while some even allow you to remove and wash the padding. Since dirt buildup in your dog's harness can harbor bacteria and even cause skin irritation, picking a harness that's easy to clean and maintain is essential.

6. Purpose

Dog harnesses serve diverse purposes, such as swimming, hiking, walking, or running. A standard walking harness will do the job if you are looking for a harness for regular jogs.

However, if you need a harness for running or hiking with your fur friend, you will need a more durable one. Similarly, a swimming harness may have different features, such as water-resistant material.

7. Feature

Is there any additional feature important for your pet? For instance, you may prefer reflective stitching or neon materials for the best visibility in the dark. Alternatively, you could ask for padded straps for extra comfort or features for easy lifting and control. Consider what features your dog will enjoy and prioritize them when purchasing the harness.

8. Adjustability

If you have a growing puppy, purchase a harness that allows you to adjust its straps to accommodate your dog's growth. Adjustable straps, particularly around the chest and neck, will allow you to get the most use out of the harness as your fur friend keeps growing. You can consult your veterinarian to learn how to pick a harness for your dog.

9. Style

From back clips to mesh harnesses, you have countless styles to choose from when it comes to dog harnesses. However, to determine which style will be best for your dog, you shall first assess your pup's walking habits, personality, size, health, and training goals.

Below, we introduce you to the most popular dog harnesses to help you determine the right harness for your dog.

Different Types of Dog Harnesses

After comprehending how to choose the correct dog harness, your next step is to familiarize yourself with the different harnesses available in the market.

Regardless of your pooch's size and breed, there's a stylish, durable, and functional harness for you. Harnesses are categorized based on several factors, including their architecture, purpose, and material.

Here, we look at the most popular dog harnesses your pooch will love to put on.

1. No-Pull Harness

As the name suggests, no-pull harnesses deter dogs from dragging. When pulled with force, these harnesses slightly tighten around the dog's front armpit without putting any pressure on the dog's neck. The feature makes them ideal for casual walks and socializing but not for intense training.

Since the pressure can be uncomfortable for some breeds, we recommend pet parents pay close attention to the fit of the harness and watch out for signs of irritation and rubbing.


  • Greater control
  • An excellent alternative to collars
  • Discourages pulling
  • Front-clip attachment allows directing the dog toward you


  • Poor fitting can put stress on the dog's legs
  • Poses tangling risk
  • It may not prevent aggressive breeds from reacting

2. Adjustable Strap

Also known as figure 8 harnesses, adjustable strap harnesses have the most standard, minimalist design. They fit all types of dogs, particularly dogs that are easy to hike or walk with.

These harnesses have the most convenient adjustment options, making them perfect for growing puppies.


  • Even distribution of pressure prevents and reduces neck strain
  • The adjustable straps make it easier to get a customized fit
  • These harnesses often come with stylish and functional features, like reflective lights, velcro closures and buckles


  • The multiple buckles can make fitting and adjusting the size tricky
  • Over time, adjustable strap harnesses can become lose near the neck area

3. Step-In Strap

Step-in strap harnesses feature two loops, one for each front leg, and a back strap that you can click together and attach to the leash. Some step-in straps are also adjustable at the chest, girth, and neck, giving you more freedom to custom-fit the harness.

While these harnesses are pretty straightforward to figure out, if you have a shorter-neck dog, the strap can slit right over their head, even if it's a little loose. Furthermore, step-in strap harnesses may not give you the needed control over strong, more oversized pullers.


  • Secure fit and easy to put on
  • Ideal for dogs that fear anything going on in their head
  • The 'X' shape prevents choking and neck pressure


  • Not ideal for solid pullers
  • Physically moving your pup into a harness can be tricky

4. Step-In Padded/Mesh/Vest

This style differs from standard step-in strap harnesses in that its middle section tends to be thicker than a strap. The extra material can make puppies and skittish dogs feel more secure and less vulnerable to chafing.

On the contrary, some dogs may not prefer the confined feeling created by the bulky middle section.
Still, due to their adjustable girth, these harnesses are suitable for broader-chested dogs, such as Rottweilers and Bulldogs.


  • Easy to put on
  • Avoid neck pressure
  • Escape proof
  • Ideal for small dog breeds


  • Not ideal for pullers
  • Selecting the correct material is essential to avoid discomfort and durability issues

5. Over-The-Head Strap And Over-The-Head Mesh/Vest

Over-the-head strap harnesses go over a dog's head and behind their legs to clip together in the back. They are figure 8 harnesses available in different sizes and materials.

These dog harnesses are ideal for long-haired dogs as they are less likely to snag on their fur. Also, if your dog is a puller or an escape artist, the over-the-head mesh/vest can be a good choice because the middle section containing webbing spreads the pressure across the dog's body.


  • Reasonable control over your dog during walks
  • Comfortable and easy to wear
  • No risk of chafing around the neck


  • The design makes the straps vulnerable to tangling
  • It may not prevent pulling behavior in larger dogs
  • If you fail to choose the correct harness for your dog in terms of size, it can put stress on the front legs

6. Back-Clip Harnesses

As previously mentioned in our guide to choosing the right dog harness, back-clip harnesses are easy to set up but offer limited control. Instead of the chest, the attachment of these harnesses stays on the back as it connects to a leash.

These harnesses are ideal for calm, everyday walks for small canines with good leash manners. So, if you are looking for a harness that will help guide your furry friend's movements, skip the back-clip harnesses.


  • Comfortable
  • Easy to use
  • Allows better visibility for the dog
  • Ideal for dogs with delicate tracheas


  • Less control
  • Potential pulling

7. Front-Clip Harnesses

As you have probably guessed, front-clip harnesses have their leash attached at the front, near the dog's chest. They offer more control than back-clip harnesses, making them suitable for dogs that pull and in training.

These harnesses discourage pulling by gently redirecting the pup's attention when they pull. However, after prolonged use, your fur baby can become desensitized to them. Experts also recommend limited use of front-clip harnesses that restrict shoulder movement.


  • Control over pulling
  • Better leash manner
  • Comfort for neck and throat
  • Directional steering


  • It may not be ideal for dogs with sensitive skin and respiratory issues
  • Potential discomfort if not fitted properly

8. Dual-Clip Harnesses

Dual-clip harnesses combine parts of front and back-clip harnesses. They have two leash attachment points, one at the back and the other at the chest.

Their versatility allows pet parents to master different walking situations, enjoy better control, guide movement, and limit pulling. If you have a power puller or reactive pooch, dual-clip harnesses can be a good choice.


  • Excellent control
  • Comfortable for your pup
  • Discourage pulling
  • Ideal for all types of dogs


  • Can be costly
  • The setup can be complicated

9. Car And Swim Harnesses

Among the countless harness options for your pooch, there are harnesses designed for specific activities like swimming and traveling.

Car harnesses for dogs are a must for safe travel. They help limit your pup's movements by connecting a leash on its back.

Swim harnesses, on the other hand, are more restrictive and lightweight. Some swim harnesses double as a life jacket, making it easy for your pup to enjoy their time splashing in the water.


  • Keeps your pup safe from accidents
  • Easy to wear and affordable
  • Don't put unnecessary pressure on the neck or spine


  • It may not be the most comfortable gear option for long-wear
  • The pads of swim harnesses can get heavy when wet

The Best Harnesses For Different Situations And Dog Types

No two dogs' personalities, needs, and walking habits are identical. Hence, when figuring out how to choose the right harness for your dog, it's essential to consider your furry friend's behavior.

To give you an idea, below we discuss the best harnesses to tackle different situations with your pooch.

  • Harness For Dogs Who Pull: If your fur baby loves to play tug of war with their leash, a front-clip or no-pull harness will be your best option. Alternatively, if none of these two harnesses cut it for you, you can consider other options, like a head collar.
  • Escape artists: Some pups love escaping from their owners in the worst moments. We recommend using a dual-clip harness or a standard harness with a martingale collar for these types of puppies. Additionally, you can make the harness more secure by attaching extra features, like a belly strap.
  • Big Dogs: Strong breeds of dogs need a durable harness with wide straps made of rigid materials, like nylon. Front-clip harnesses or over-the-head harnesses are the best choices for long-haired or giant breeds of dogs.
  • Small Dogs: Your tiny pooch needs a harness that's gentle, lightweight, comfortable, and will not overburden it. Step-in harnesses with the correct material, like mesh, can work well for small dogs.
  • Dogs With Unusual Proportions: Finding a harness for dogs with thin necks, deep chests, and long bodies can be difficult. Luckily, adjustable strap harnesses allow you to customize its size to sit on your dog’s body dog'sately.
  • Puppies in training: Adjustable harnesses are also ideal for growing and training puppies. They are lightweight and durable, allowing you to adjust the straps as your little canine friends keep growing. Alternatively, mesh or step-in harnesses can also give your puppy the necessary freedom while keeping them safe.
  • Puppies with skin issues: If your pup has sensitive skin, look for harnesses that will not sit too tight on their skin. You can opt for a mesh harness to let the breeze in and keep your puppy comfortable.
  • Long-Haired Dogs: If your fur baby has long hair but is prone to matting, we recommend using smooth materials, like mesh that will not tangle or irritate the fur. Also, pay close attention to the harness clip, ensuring it doesn't snag the long hair.
  • Dog Who Often Chafes: If your dog is prone to chafing, prioritize a good fit and comfortable material. Adjustable strap harnesses are a good option due to their flexibility. Alternatively, you can opt for padded harnesses with soft material and wide straps to avoid painful rubbing.

Walk Easy With Doodle Couture's Innovating Dog Harnesses!

So, that was our guide on how to choose the correct dog harness for your pooch.

With many benefits, harnesses are excellent for all breeds of pups. They reduce pressure on the trachea, which makes it easier for your pooch to breathe during walks and training. For older dogs, harnesses provide much-needed support for mobility.

At Doodle Couture, we take pride in our award-winning, innovative dog harnesses designed to keep your fur baby safe without restricting their natural movement. Our harnesses are durable, easy to put on and don't put unnecessary pressure on your pup's neck.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out Doodle Couture's shop now for the next best gift for your pup!


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